(Minghui.org) Fifteen years ago, on July 20th, 1999, the onset of persecution turned the lives of 100 million Falun Gong practitioners upside down overnight. Practitioners who have persevered through the brutal persecution have told extraordinary stories of their faith, and the choices they have made in the face of unprecedented oppression.
Over the past fifteen years, the Minghui website has received thousands upon thousands of reports from China about the persecution, and a similarly large number of reports about both practitioners and non-practitioners – both in China and around the world – standing up to resist it. As the de-facto repository of this vast amount of data, Minghui is in a unique position to analyse the scope of both the persecution and of the peaceful resistance.
Today, as we solemnly mark fifteen years since the campaign to crush Falun Gong officially began in China back on July 20th, 1999, we offer a brief overview of the current situation in China and abroad. In the following paragraphs, we explore five keywords – key topics that offer a snapshot of the persecution and of practitioners' resilience.
Through the numbers, we see practitioners' courage. We also see the righteous hearts of millions of people who signed petitions to call for an end to the persecution, in particular the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) forced organ harvesting crimes in China.
This is a story beyond just the choices of those persecuted in China, but also about the choices made by China's people, and by us all.
In the persecution reports from the first half of 2014, on average, for each month:
- 8 practitioners were persecuted to death (total 49)
- 55 practitioners were taken to brainwashing centres (total 332)
- 69 practitioners were illegally sentenced (total 413)
- 498 practitioners were illegally arrested (total 2,987)
In total, in the past 15 years, 3,769 practitioners are confirmed to have died as a direct result of persecution and torture; at least 6,000 practitioners are confirmed to have been illegally sentenced to confinement in jails, prisons and detention centres; and more than 100,000 practitioners have been reported to be sent to forced labour camps without trial. In addition, thousands were taken to mental hospitals and administered nerve-damaging drugs as yet another form of torture and repression.
A policy-driven, state-sanctioned industry, brainwashing centres are places where Falun Gong practitioners are tortured for the purpose of forcing them to renounce their beliefs.
A recent report analyses the main sources of money circulated in this strange industry:
- Government appropriations (mainly in the form of construction funding),
- Bonuses paid by the government based on the number of “transformed” practitioners. Higher numbers of “transformations” lead to bigger bonuses.
- “Education fees” paid by the practitioners' employers, and ransoms paid by practitioners and their families. Some of the income goes directly to staff members' personal accounts and does not appear in a brainwashing centre's budget.
A highly conservative estimate puts the scale of the industry at the magnitude of billions of Yuan in the past 15 years.
Below are some key numbers surrounding brainwashing centres:
- 131,000 estimated detentions
- 20,000-Yuan monthly “education fee” (GBP £2,100) on average per practitioner, paid by their employers
- 7,000 Yuan (GBP £750) on average extorted from each family for a practitioner's release
- 357 confirmed death cases in brainwashing centres
- 449 brainwashing centres in 173 cities and 329 counties
The brainwashing industry received a boost after the shutdown of forced labour camps late last year, with brainwashing centres taking over the role of persecuting practitioners who would have been sent to labour camps.
In the first half of 2014:
- Over 70 new brainwashing centres were opened across China
- The number of confirmed arrests leading to detention in brainwashing centres increased by 41,3% compared to the same period last year (332 vs. 235)
During the 25th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council this March, the Canadian government raised the issue of state-sanctioned organ harvesting in China.
The pending US House Resolution 281 (with 180 co-sponsors) cites a short waiting time of 2 to 4 weeks for organ transplants, a record high of more than 10,000 organ transplantations every year without an established organ donation system, and a sudden increase in organ transplants shortly after the onset of the persecution of Falun Gong. All of these point to the harvesting of organs from living Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned under the persecution.
The resolution cites journalist Ethan Gutmann's estimate that approximately 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners may have been killed for their organs from 2000 to 2008.
In efforts to stop this horrific crime, in the past two years:
- 6 resolutions or motions from the European Parliament, Italian Senate, Illinois State House, Australian Senate, Irish Parliament Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee and Medical Society of Virginia, were passed to condemn organ harvesting
- 35 State Representatives from Minnesota co-signed a letter to the Commissioner of the Department of Health, and Office of Higher Education, expressing concern over organ harvesting in China and its impact in Minnesota
- 10 countries reported forums and parliamentary hearings on organ harvesting: US, Canada, Slovakia, Italy, Israel, Sweden, UK, Denmark, France and Australia.
Grassroots support at home and abroad
As the persecution of Falun Gong enters its 15th year, more and more people are joining efforts to stop the persecution, both at home and abroad:
- Many petition campaigns have been launched to rescue 49 practitioners
- 26,622 signatures from Chinese citizens calling on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to stop organ harvesting
- 1.5 million signatures from 53 countries were delivered to the UN in December 2013, calling for action against organ harvesting in China
Inside China, courageous citizens publicly renounce their membership in the Communist Party as a symbolic act to resist the regime's ideological control and as a peaceful solution to disintegrate the Party in their pursuit for freedom.
- 171 million Chinese have renounced their memberships in the Chinese Communist Party and its affiliated organisations (the Communist Youth League and the Young Pioneers)
- Each day, 90,000 Chinese join this arguably “largest grassroots movement in history”, according to the Global Service Centre for Quitting the CCP
World Falun Dafa day
May 13th, 2014 marked the 15th World Falun Dafa Day. May 13th is the day that Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong) was first publicly introduced in China in 1992. May 13th is also the birthday of Mr Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong.
As part of the celebration around the globe, about 8,000 practitioners from more than 50 countries and 200 regions joined a parade that day through Manhattan's busy streets.
34 proclamations and support letters from US and Canadian government agencies and legislators have been published on Minghui.org. Many such documents proclaim local “World Falun Dafa Day” or “World Falun Dafa Week” around May 13th and applaud practitioners' contribution to local communities.
In addition, 18,000-plus greetings were submitted to the Minghui website to wish the founder of Falun Gong a happy birthday. They offer as a glimpse of the deep respect practitioners hold towards Mr Li and the wide spread of the practice around the world.